Studies show that the average parent has 15 negative interactions with their child for every one positive interaction. Yet, children are 7 times more likely to repeat the things that get noticed. This means, as parents we often unknowingly encourage our children to behave improperly! Here are some ideas to help children associate positive feelings with positive behaviors.
Rewarding With Material Things
When you “reward” a child with a material thing or money for good behavior, the child is the only one to benefit from that thing. Furthermore, it may well create in the child an expectation that he or she will get something for behaving well, thereby decreasing the motivation if nothing is offered. Rewarding with “things” can also create selfishness in a child. How many times have you heard a child say, “What will I get if I do this?” Although there may be times when rewarding with an item for a accomplishing a difficult goal could work, make this the exception, not the habit.
The Advantages of Celebrations
To help children associate positive feelings with positive behaviors, why not have a simple celebration together which costs little or no money at all? With a celebration, everyone involved in the celebration benefits, not just the child. The child then learns that his or her desirable behavior can lead to fun for others too. When you celebrate (which is another way to say “do something fun together”), be sure to talk about how you are celebrating the good feelings that come with good behavior. This helps the child internalize the desire to do the right thing for the right reason.
Tips for Parents
- Decide on the celebration together beforehand
- Celebrate immediately upon achievement
- Make sure the celebration or reward is not available any other way
- Use visual feedback charts so the child knows exactly how many good behaviors he or she has left before the celebration
- If you use a visual feedback chart or system, never take away what the child has earned if the child fails
- Each time the child does the desired behavior, notice it and happily describe exactly what you saw that you liked.
Ideas to enrich your family
♥ Have a picnic underneath the kitchen table
♥ The child gets to trade beds with parents for one night
♥ Let the child eat popsicles in the bath tub
♥ Let the child choose the toilet paper for the family bathroom
♥ Dad gives the child piggy back rides for 15 minutes
♥ Pick the child up and spin him or her around in a circle
♥ Put the child on a blanket on the floor and pull it around the house
♥ The child gets treated like a king or queen with parents as servants
♥ Make 6 bowls of popcorn and let the child season them all differently
♥ The child gets to put anything edible he or she wants in the spaghetti sauce—and the whole family has to eat it.
♥ Let the child paint Mom’s toenails all different colors
♥ The child gets to have two friends over for a pajama party
♥ Let the child choose what’s for dinner
♥ Make paper puppets together
♥ Play the child’s favorite game with him or her
♥ Have a water balloon fight